So Lifeway Research, a Christian polling and data outfit, released a new report that says 61% percent of those Americans born between 1980-1991 are either somewhat or strongly accepting of same-sex marriage. Which even sounds low to us, knowing what we know about this generation. But again: Lifeway is a conservative evangelical firm, so — yea.
Okay, so in this data, Lifeway also reported this finding:
“Two-thirds of those with no religious preference agree strongly there is nothing wrong with same-sex marriage, while only 1 in 7 of those who say they trust Christ as Savior agree strongly. Further, 46 percent of those who say they trust Christ as Savior strongly disagree and in fact find fault with marriage between members of the same gender.” [SOURCE]
Not a big surprise. While there are welcome exceptions, we pro-LGBT peeps know that the evangelical church is still our most reliably consistent well of opposition. Kids who are brought up in the church are typically injected with fear about LGBT people from the moment they start putting two Barbies together in one dream house. Anti-gay indoctrination is the all-too-reliable order of the evangelical day.
But the good thing about that: We LGBT activists and lawyers and varied equality voices are talking about CIVIL marriage equality. CIVIL. As in disconnected from the church by law. As in a custom where the religious ceremonial component is fully optional, but the CIVIL marriage license is a requirement (at least if the couple wants the state/fed. rights and benefits). Civil marriage, as in the institution that all heterosexual Americans experience now, with churches free to make whatever decisions they want in regards to the couples they will and will not marry or solemnize or recognize or chicken dance-erize. So in a perfect world, the above passage about evangelicals’ personal faith-based feelings should not even come into play into the civil marriage conversation. Those feelings are for their own family, in terms of what weddings they will or won’t attend and what gift registries they will and won’t acknowledge, and their own church membership bodies, in terms of what weddings they will accommodate. We *FULLY* respect their right to make these decisions.
Unfortunately, the evangelical opposition is not willing to afford us the same respect. Here is Lifeway president Thom Ranier talking to Focus on the Family:
“It will be a critical issue for churches – soon to be led by Millennials – to establish their biblical positions on the issue of same-sex relationships,” he said. “If it is to find relevance with Millennials, the church must be willing to deal directly with the issue of same-sex attraction and relationships. The church must voice a clear, biblical ethic of sexuality.” [SOURCE]
NO, NO, NO, NO, NO! Here we have research that shows milliennials are more supportive of gay people’s civil rights than any generation to come before (and again, we think the Lifeway data is still low). We also see, unsurprisingly, that evangelical Christians are one of the biggest sticking points (the survey also cites Men, African-Americans, and Southerners as greater resisters). But the man whose firm conducted this survey responds by saying that more church-infused opinion is the answer? That more condemnation of same-sex relationships is the way we handle gay people’s placement within civil society? That more church injection into American politics is the answer, even while similar studies show that millennials are increasingly turned off by the church, with anti-gay attitudes cited as a reason why?
Just NO! What modern-day “culture warriors” like Mr. Ranier and Focus on the Family need/must do is realize/admit that their overwrought attempt to control civil law with personal faith is something that has wounded modern American politics/government! The Falwell era? Well, it may have Fared-well for a spell, but it ultimately FAILed-well too. It divided us deeply. The hand was overplayed, with the overreaching both exposing the inadequacies of the evangelicals’ argument against LGBT people’s rights, as well as raising questions among increasingly inquisitive younger generations about why, exactly, the church feels like it has any kind of right to set public policy in such a way. It is past time for the religious right to admit these mistakes, learn from these missteps, and move on to a more tenable position. A position that absolutely utilizes their own religious freedom to shout their anti-LGBT biblical interpretations with a ferocity, a right that we would theoretically join them in court in defending. But it’s also a position that must stop acting as if all Americans, by virtue of birth, chose one of two options: (1) To willfully join their national church, or (2) sit quietly and doodle on the church bulletin while the national sermon shapes the constitution. Just like choir director Barbara Jean’s reliably inedible covered dishes, this sort of forced national church fellowship is primed to spoil even before a young chuch-goer can complete the question, “aren’t their homeless and hungry people who could use our time, energy, and funding?”
Normally it's kids getting kicked out of Catholic schools for having gay parents. But for Christine Judd, the now-former athletic director and dean of students, being forced out of Cathedral High School, part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, only took marrying her lesbian partner.
Texas doesn’t have to grant a divorce to a same-sex couple married in Massachusetts:
Gay couples legally married in other states cannot get a divorce in Texas, where same-sex marriage is banned, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday.
The 5th Texas Court of Appeals ruled that a Dallas district court judge didn’t have the authority to hear a divorce case involving two Dallas men who married in Massachusetts in 2006. Republican state Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office had appealed after Judge Tena Callahan, a Democrat, said she did have jurisdiction and dismissed the state’s attempt to intervene.
Now, a hetero couple married in Massachusetts can get a divorce in Texas. But, Texas doesn’t allow same-sex marriages and doesn’t have to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. Texas is “protected” by DOMA. Specifically, Section 2 of DOMA, codified as 28 USC § 1738C, which reads:
No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.
Other legally married Americans have the freedom to move around the country, knowing their relationships are valid. But, same-sex couples don’t have that protection.
Today, the Texas Court of Appeals for the Fifth District, located in Dallas, ruled that a same-sex couple that had married in Massachusetts could not legally seek a divorce, following their move to Texas. The case, entitled In re the Marriage of J.B. and H.B., was appealed by the state following a victory in the lower court in which the judge had granted the two men a divorce and declared Texas’ mini-Defense of Marriage Act (mini-DOMA) as violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The state argued that since Texas did not recognize the men’s marriage as valid, they were not eligible for the remedy of divorce. Specifically, Texas claimed that the courts did not have jurisdiction, or the right and power, to even hear the case and thus it should be dismissed.
The Appeals Court looked to the language of the Texas mini-DOMA in deciding that it was clear that the legislature intended to declare same-sex marriages illegal and thus the court could not acknowledge their existence, even for the purpose of granting a divorce from a legal marriage in another state. The court denied the principle of comity, which requires that courts in one state give effect to the laws of another state, stating that it would not extend comity to other states, if doing so would violate Texas public policy. The court rejected rulings from other states, including New York, which allowed such divorces, even though same-sex couples may not yet legally marry in New York. It also stated that there was no fundamental right to same-sex marriage and that sexual orientation was not a suspect classification, denying that the mini-DOMA in Texas violated the Fourteenth Amendment. This ruling stands in sharp contrast to that issued by Judge Walker in the California Prop 8 decision, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which held that such a right existed and that sexual orientation should be protected as a suspect class.
A second Texas case, in which a judge in Austin granted a divorce to a lesbian couple, is likely to be appeal by the State to the Texas Court of Appeals for the Third District, with one or both of these cases potentially winding up in the Texas Supreme Court.
The Texas case is but one decision in an ongoing judicial debate across the nation regarding how much deference states with no relationship recognition or even explicit laws on the books which deny any rights at all to same-sex couples must accord those states which allow such partnerships. Returning to the state that issues the marriage license is not an option for most couples as all states currently have a residency requirement for divorce. Generally, at least one half of the couple must live in the state six months or more in order for the state to grant a divorce. Relationship termination is an essential part of allowing both individuals to move on with their lives. Until the federal Defense of Marriage Act is repeal by Congress or struck down by the Supreme Court, couples will continue to be vulnerable during the most difficult period in their relationship.
The Fifth District Court of Appeals in Dallas, Texas today reversed an October 2009 decision by District Judge Tena Callahan allowing a same-sex divorce, with instructions to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction, the Dallas Morning News reports.
In her 2009 decision, Callahan ruled that "the state prohibition of same-sex marriage violates the federal constitutional right to equal protection" and ruled that two men married in Massachusetts in September 2006 could divorce in the state.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Governor Rick Perry expressed angst over Callahan's ruling.
Said Abbott at the time: "The laws and constitution of the State of Texas define marriage as an institution involving one man and one woman. Today's ruling purports to strike down that constitutional definition – despite the fact that it was recently adopted by 75 percent of Texas voters."
Added Perry: "Texas voters and lawmakers have repeatedly affirmed the view that marriage is defined as between one man and one woman. I believe the ruling is flawed and should be appealed."
Today the court rejected Callahan's ruling: "Same-sex marriages or civil unions are prohibited by a voter-approved amendment to the state Constitution and the Texas Family Code. The appeals court said today that the trial court wrongly ruled that those provisions violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment."
As some of you might remember, as as reported here, a federal district judge in Massachusetts ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional under the 10th Amendment, which protects the prerogatives of the States, and the 5th Amendment, which ensures equal protection. Judge Joseph Tauro's opinions are available here and here.
No, I'm not bothering you with old (but still good) news. Lost in a frenetic day dominated by the Left Coast was that "back east", Judge Tauro entered final judgment in both cases, captions Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Massachusetts v. Department of Health and Human Services. Final judgment is a little archane: It is the written determination of a lawsuit by the judge who presided at
trial, which makes rulings on all issues and completes
the case. It's like hitting the "Send" button on your email. The moment you send it, the email is out there and you can bet someone is going to read it. But, only after those few seconds when you can still hit "Unsend" or "Recall" is the email officially (and in some cases, unfortunately) out there. Though it is a little more complicated than that, you get the idea.
This case was not appealed to the First Circuit, the appellate court sitting in New England. This means that, as to Massachusetts, certain parts of DOMA, and its enshrined discrimination against same-sex couples, are officially unconstitutional. No delays, no stays, no injunctions. Just equality.
Thanks to loyal reader, Jason C., for making sure I'm on the ball. And, to any Eli's out there, excuse the Cambridge-centered post.
Traditional marriage ‘defenders’ are in a tizzy after a federal judge overturned Proposition 8. Newt Gingrich issued a statement explaining how this ‘notorious’ ruling shows ‘disrespect’ for the Constitution and the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman. He should know about marriage sanctity; Newt’s been married no less than three times, with a few extramarital affairs to boot. Divorce is a hot topic for conservatives worried about preserving the institution of marriage, so there is a silver lining in Proposition 8 for them: allowing gay marriage appears to reduce the divorce rate. Here’s a case study from the country with the longest history of allowing same-sex marriage: The Netherlands.
Check out the Duck’s chart.
Nate Silver made some similar findings last fall (Check out his chart, too):
As is somewhat visually apparent, those states which have tended to take more liberal policies toward gay marriage have tended also to have larger declines in their divorce rates. In Massachusetts, which legalized gay marriage in 2004, the divorce rate has declined by 21 percent and is the lowest in the country by some margin. It is joined at the top of the list by Rhode Island and New Mexico, which do not perform same-sex marriages but idiosyncratically also have no statute or constitutional provision expressly forbidding them, as well as Maine, whose legislature approved same-sex marriage only to have it overturned (although not banned constitutionally) by its voters.
On the other hand, the seven states at the bottom of the chart all had constitutional prohibitions on same-sex marriage in place throughout 2008. The state which experienced the highest increase in its divorce rate over the period (Alaska, at 17.2 percent) also happens to be the first one to have altered its constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage, in 1998.
Martina Navratilova, left, paid a reported $3 million to ex Toni Layton, center, and about that much to another ex, Judy Nelson, right. The tennis legend had relationships of about eight years with both women, according to DNA.com.
Martina Navratilove and her former partner, Toni Layton, have reportedly settled out of court in their long-running divorce battle.
According to the website Daily News & Analysis, the tennis legend and Layton had had “an unofficial wedding ceremony” some years back during which they agreed to share all the assets they obtained during their relationship. Layton was named grantor and trustee of Navratilova’s estate back in 2002. But Martina had her removed from the position in 2008, accusing her of “abusing her power for improper purposes.”